Venetian mercury Mirror, 18th Century

Carved and openwork wooden frame.
Decor of acanthus leaves and scrolls.
Arm of light behind the mirror.

The first metallized glass mirrors were invented in Sidon, present-day Lebanon, in the 1st century AD, then the technique developed under the Roman Empire. The mirrors were made from polished rock crystal to which gold, silver or lead leaf was applied. Very small, 2 to 7 centimeters in diameter, these first glass mirrors are more akin to amulets or ornaments. The poor quality of these will make them prefer polished metal mirrors. In the 5th century, the Chinese began to manufacture mirrors using silver-mercury amalgams. This new technique will inspire a few centuries later the European manufacturers of the Renaissance (XVIth century), by manufacturing a glass mirror covered with a tin-mercury amalgam.

The 16th century in Europe will see the appearance of the manufacture of mirrors in more or less precious materials with a great diversity of shapes and ornamentation of the frames. The discovery of the glass mirror is a real revolution. The exact date and place of discovery are unknown, but Venice was renowned in the 16th century for its glassworks using this new technique. In Venice, on the island of Murano, the master glassmakers give new possibilities to the use of the mirror. This manufacturing secret is slow to spread in Europe, Italy retains the exclusive manufacturing and exports its works to the rest of Europe by influencing the artistic character of the production.

XVIII century,
Venice, Italy

Height: 37,40 inch (95cm)
Length :18,89 inch (48cm)

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